The Editorial Board of The New York Times is at it again, wringing their collective hands this time over the notion of Americans exercising their right to carry firearms. In an article, titled, “The Threat to Public Safety if ‘Concealed Carry’ Goes National,” they decry plans by Republicans in Congress to pass legislation that would “nationalize” what the writers see as the NRA’s goal of concealed carry everywhere.
In this case, the editors are correct about the NRA, at least in so far as the claim that the organization supports national carry license reciprocity. As the NYT article acknowledges, there are various proposals about how to make this work. Some bills have had language that would require all states and territories to honor the issued carry licenses of any, while other bills have added a clause that would make a state-issued ID—such as a driver’s license—as sufficient for people who come from states that do not mandate a license to carry legally. That latter provision would benefit residents of Vermont, for example. There is also mention of a proposal that is one that is likely to raise red flags in the gun community, a national license. Given our system balancing states and the federal government, a national license is less desirable than doing what we already do with marriage and driver’s licenses—accept any issued by any jurisdiction.
The claim that “it is far more likely that guns are used to harm the owners or other innocent people than to stop a crime” is made without any proof being offered. Perhaps that’s because the evidence in fact goes against the assertion being made. The total number of deaths due to gunfire in a given year due to all causes—homicide, suicide, and accident—is around 30,000 per annum. Adding in non-fatal injuries brings the total to around 100,000 in the same period. By contrast, the lowest reasonable estimate for defensive gun uses is 108,000 in a given year. Note that this clearly does not mean that 108,000 attackers get killed or at least shot between January and December inclusive. This means that each year, 108,000 times, Americans use firearms to stop an attack—whether that means firing shots or simply drawing a weapon that reminds the would-be attacker that he has something else to do.
The Times does cite the Violence Policy Center’s tracking of carry license holders who are supposed to have committed homicides. According to the VPC, since 2007, there have been 898 such incidents. In the one hundred sixteen months of this tally, that works out to almost eight per month. Of that total, a third are suicides, while somewhat fewer were convicted of unlawful homicide. In both types, the VPC apparently wants us to believe that a person intent on killing self or others will wait to get a license to carry first. And this whole business is put into perspective even by the editors when they acknowledge that eight million Americans were licensed to carry in 2012 and that this number has grown in the years since. Add in the people who carry legally in states that do not require a license, and it’s clear that even a rabidly anti-rights organization like the VPC can’t come up with wrong-doing done by more than one hundredth of one percent of law-abiding armed Americans.
People like the Editorial Board of The New York Times get accused of being out-of-touch elitists. While they may never be able to understand how those of us in the middle of the country could choose to be able to defend ourselves, they could at a minimum spend some time verifying the claims of fact that they make. And if they really want to stretch themselves, they might consider talking to those of us who make different choices from theirs.
Or they can continue the downward slide of traditional media into irrelevance. The democratization of information is a grand thing, one that puts the burden and the opportunity on each one of us to learn the truth for ourselves, and companies like the Times will only survive if they offer us context and insight, not more insistence that we take their word as the last that needs to be said.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.